Written By Lisa Breslin

The other morning, while my husband was whipping up breakfast in the kitchen, the phone rang. “Lisa, come deal with this,” he said after listening to something on the other end of the line. “I can’t tell what is going on.”

There were no words, just this flood of music – an overwhelmingly beautiful blend of voices and instruments. I knew it was my twin sister, Sarah, and a choir performing “God has Gone Up,” at Christ Church in Rye, New York. I knew that with a clandestine punch of the speed dial on her cell phone, Sarah was sharing one of those rare, awesome moments and telling me, “Wish you were here. I’m happy.”

Family members, friends and I have enjoyed this tradition for decades. We never plan the calls in advance or talk about them afterward. The magic is in the moment.

I’ve heard snippets of a Jimmy Buffet concert, the mournful songs of Henryck Gorecki as they are performed in Belgium, and I’ve heard baseball fans wailing “Take me out to the ballgame” from Camden Yards. On September 11, a children’s chorus sang a song about peace from a tiny classroom in Ninove, Belgium into my answering machine at work.

Forget the greeting cards at predictable times; there is no better connection than these random calls. These random calls allow the emotions of the event to speak for themselves. The first time I remember sharing this tradition with my mother was in 1979, my senior year in high school. My friend’s grandfather was playing the hammered dulcimer, “Scotland the Brave.” I grabbed the phone, dialed home and whispered, “Mom, just listen.” Then I held the receiver as close to the melody, the moment, as possible.

These random calls only happen about once every six months, or a year. But you know how to shift gears quickly when they come. You know how to fight the impulse to hang up until you translate what is happening, and until you can confirm that it’s not a phone solicitor describing vinyl siding or offering a peaceful plot in the Heavenly View Cemetery.

In just a few weeks, my daughter will celebrate her 15th birthday by seeing her first rock concert – The Killers, at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. It may be an accidental pocket dial, or a call she makes on purpose, but I hope to hear the lyrics that she and I often bellow together: “Coming out of my cage and I’m doing just fine. Gotta gotta be down – because I want it all.” I look forward to many more years of random phone calls that say, “Wish you were here. I’m happy.”